Hotels on Italy’s Amalfi coast are selling holidays to beat coronavirus

While most holidaymakers are scrambling to get refunds on their booked trips after countries around the world imposed strict travel bans, a group of hotels in Italy, which was at one point the epicentre of Covid-19 in Europe, is encouraging people to book holidays with them.

But far from shamelessly drumming up trade during a crisis, the hotels involved, all situated along the Amalfi coast, are actually hoping to use the initiative to raise money to go towards medical research in the fight against coronavirus.

Four hotels – Le Sirenuse and Il San Pietro in Positano, Palazzo Avino in Ravello and Hotel Santa Catarina in Amalfi – plus the Michelin-starred restaurant Don Alfonso 1890 in Sant’Agnata sui Due Golfi are involved in the scheme.

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Each of the hotels has listed 10 vouchers worth €5,000 (£4,405) for sale, bookable by contacting the hotels directly. The vouchers entitle the holder to a two-night stay for two people at the property, as well as dinner at Don Alfonso 1890, to be redeemed by the end of the holiday season in 2022.

The host hotels will also be laying on extras, such as romantic dinners, spa treatments, cocktail-mixing classes and private tours of the area, The Telegraph reports.

In total, they hope to raise €200,000 (£176,226), which will be donated to the Italy-based G Pascale Foundation, to help with researching a Covid-19 vaccine.

This isn’t the only way the travel industry has clubbed together in the fight against coronavirus.

Hotels around the UK are offering discounted meals for NHS workers as well as the vulnerable.

Some hotels are also offering free accommodation for NHS workers who may need to isolate from their families.

A similar global initiative was also launched by Airbnb, with up to 100,000 homes available around the world for frontline workers.

It comes after the UK Foreign Office updated its travel advice at the weekend, with British citizens now warned against non-essential travel abroad for an “indefinite” period.

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Airline is giving customers free air miles for staying at home amid coronavirus pandemic

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of thousands of flights have been grounded around the world while millions of would-be travellers have been forced to stay at home.

Holiday spots have already been telling tourists to stay away – and now an airline is encouraging its customers to do the same. 

Russia-based airline S7 has launched a new “Fly At Home“ promotion that gifts its customers 100 air miles for free just for staying at home.

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The airline said (in Russian): “The best that each of us can do in the fight against the pandemic today is to limit our movements and stay at home.”

It added that while it believes ”travel will return to our lives again”, now is the time for people to stay put.

To that end, it is supporting the effort by giving away up to 3,000 loyalty points per customer between 30 March and 30 April.

In order to get the miles, you will have to be a member of the airline’s S7 Priority loyalty programme, and click the dedicated “I’m home” button every day.

S7 is a member of the airline network Oneworld, which includes British Airways, American Airlines and Qantas.

This means you could use the points towards discounts against flights on any of the member airlines once travel restrictions have been lifted. S7 has promised that the miles accrued in your account from the promotion will be valid until the end of 2021.

S7 isn’t the only airline running promotions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vietnamese airline Vietjet is promising to pay customers up to £7,300 each if they catch coronavirus after flying with the carrier.

The payout will be part of its new “SKY COVID CARE insurance” scheme, which will cover all domestic flights between 23 March and 30 June 2020.

It will be offered free of charge to all eligible customers, regardless of age and nationality.

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What does easyJet shutdown mean for passengers?

Because of “unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” easyJet has stopped all commercial flights and grounded all its 344 Airbus aircraft across Europe. It may continue to operate some repatriation flights at government request.

Here’s everything you need to know.

When will easyJet start up again?

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The airline says: “At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights. We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.”

But the airline says it has agreed with the Unite union to furlough all its UK-based cabin crew during April and May. I interpret that to mean easyJet does not expect to start operations on a meaningful scale until June at the earliest.

The current Foreign Office warning against non-essential travel abroad continues until 16 April 2020 but is likely to be extended.

I have an easyJet flight booked before the end of May. What are my options?

The crucial thing is: has the flight been formally cancelled? If it has, then you are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days under European air passengers’ rights rules.

For the avoidance of doubt, that includes any return flight linked to the cancelled service.

So if you were planning to fly on 1 April to Spain and back again on 1 June, then you can get your money back – but only when you get official notification that the outbound flight is cancelled, or the day of departure goes past and it doesn’t take off.

Many bookings for the next two months are still shown as operating normally.

The airline is allowing passengers to postpone their journeys or to take a credit voucher. In a world in which future flight options are uncertain and everyone needs cash, neither of these choices is optimal.

How do I get a cash refund?

It used to be so easy: when easyJet cancelled a flight, passengers would be sent a link that took them to the booking and they could request their money back online within seconds.

But easyJet – along with British Airways – has removed that option in a bid to persuade passengers to take vouchers instead.

To get actual money back you must phone the airline.

But I can’t get through on the phone

That is the story from thousands of passengers who simply want their money back for a service that easyJet (or British Airways) can’t deliver. The airline says: “We are currently receiving an extremely high volume of calls and we understand the inconvenience this may cause.”

You have a year from the date of the flight in which to call.

Top: Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Bottom: Charles Bridge, Prague

Grand Mosque, Mecca

2/20 Grand Mosque, Mecca

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

3/20 Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Nabi Younes market, Mosul

4/20 Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Basra Grand Mosque, Iraq

5/20 Basra Grand Mosque, Iraq

Charles Bridge, Prague

6/20 Charles Bridge, Prague

Taj Mahal hotel, India

7/20 Taj Mahal hotel, India

Dubai Mall, UAE

8/20 Dubai Mall, UAE

Beirut March, Lebanon

9/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

Gateway of India, Mumbai

10/20 Gateway of India, Mumbai

Cairo University, Egypt

11/20 Cairo University, Egypt

Amman Citadel, Jordan

12/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

13/20 Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Beirut March, Lebanon

14/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

Cairo, Egypt

15/20 Cairo, Egypt

Cairo University, Egypt

16/20 Cairo University, Egypt

Victoria Memorial, India

17/20 Victoria Memorial, India

Amman Citadel, Jordan

18/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Amman Citadel, Jordan

19/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Sidon, Lebanon

20/20 Sidon, Lebanon

1/20

Top: Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Bottom: Charles Bridge, Prague

Grand Mosque, Mecca

2/20 Grand Mosque, Mecca

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

3/20 Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Nabi Younes market, Mosul

4/20 Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Basra Grand Mosque, Iraq

5/20 Basra Grand Mosque, Iraq

Charles Bridge, Prague

6/20 Charles Bridge, Prague

Taj Mahal hotel, India

7/20 Taj Mahal hotel, India

Dubai Mall, UAE

8/20 Dubai Mall, UAE

Beirut March, Lebanon

9/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

Gateway of India, Mumbai

10/20 Gateway of India, Mumbai

Cairo University, Egypt

11/20 Cairo University, Egypt

Amman Citadel, Jordan

12/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

13/20 Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Beirut March, Lebanon

14/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

Cairo, Egypt

15/20 Cairo, Egypt

Cairo University, Egypt

16/20 Cairo University, Egypt

Victoria Memorial, India

17/20 Victoria Memorial, India

Amman Citadel, Jordan

18/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Amman Citadel, Jordan

19/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Sidon, Lebanon

20/20 Sidon, Lebanon

Rather than the published number, you could try 0161 774 9879 – which is the number for overseas calls. Press 1 for English and wait (the hold music is pretty good, thankfully).

I have asked the Civil Aviation Authority to look into the airlines’ decision to disable the online refund function.

Aren’t I due compensation when an airline cancels a flight?

The European air passengers’ rights rules prescribed payments for short-notice cancellations of up to €600 (£535) per person. But airlines need not pay if the cancellation is clearly beyond its control. The authorities accept that this is clearly the case with these cancellations. 

Can I get a refund for flights booked in June?

Not yet. The presumption is that flights will go ahead. Wait until May to see what the picture is then.

I desperately need to fly. What can I do?

Use another airline. British Airways and other airlines are running both long- and short-haul operations from Heathrow. Departures on Monday morning include BA to many European cities as well as Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester, as well as Boston and Tokyo.

Iberia has multiple flights to and from Madrid, while Aer Lingus has services to Dublin and Shannon.

Ryanair is operating a skeleton service of links between UK airports and Ireland with some flights to and from Continental Europe.

Will easyJet survive?

Yes. Like British Airways, Jet2 and Ryanair, easyJet is financially strong and well managed, and will be able to secure funding to see it through the coronavirus crisis.

My package holiday includes easyJet flights. Who do I ask for a refund?

Your contract is with the tour operator (the firm that put your holiday together). It should provide a full refund within 14 days. But Abta, the travel trade association is warning that many travel companies cannot meet this deadline.

 

 

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Covid 19 coronavirus: Northern Lights livestream delights travellers stuck at home

It takes a lot of patience to see the Northern Lights.

It often means multiple flights to remote location and hours of driving across arctic lands in the middle of a freezing night, looking skyward for a glimpse of the green ribbons twiring across the sky.

It is a bucket list experience for many travellers, that is sadly currently inaccessible to the majority of us due to covid-19 travel restrictions around the world.

• Covid19.govt.nz: The Government’s official Covid-19 advisory website

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Coronavirus: Gulf airlines see 20% surge in demand for cargo services

While passenger flights have been grounded, cargo freighters are much in demand

Emirates SkyCargo transported close to half a million units of hand sanitisers in a single Boeing 777 freighter aircraft.

While passenger aircraft have been grounded since last week, airlines in the Gulf region have seen cargo services surge by as much as 20 percent year-on-year, as demand for essential goods, such as food and medical supplies, rises during the battle to combat the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s gone up so far by 20 percent approximately. But it’s expected also to increase even further as the cargo needs to be moved now more frequently,” Mohammed Al Husary, executive president and owner of UAS International Trip Support, a Dubai-based company which offers global support services to airlines, told Arabian Business.

“There’s big demand on medical supplies and essential supplies globally,” he said, adding that he expects demand for cargo to surge even more the longer the Covid-19 outbreak continues.

Keep airports open

Nicholas Cole, Riyadh-based CEO of airport operating company DAA International, said he had also seen this trend at airports it manages in the region.

“It is important to keep airports open. We are in conversations with a number of airlines across our group who still wish to continue flying with the bottom of the plane full,” he said.

“I’ll give you one example, some of the Covid-19 tests coming out of China can be flown in hours. If they were to travel by road, or by boat, it would take so much longer. So, I think it forces the world to think about what aviation does for a connectivity, not just for people, but also for, you know, goods that are time sensitive.

“I’d suggest, currently, that unfortunately we’ll have a lot of time sensitive goods, such as [Covid-19] tests and potential vaccines. These kinds of things will be incredibly time sensitive. So I suggest that airlines and airports, although they may be closed to passengers, many airports, ourselves included, are starting to think about what else can we do to keep the facilities moving and play our part in the recovery of Covid-19,” he added.

Additional freighter flights

Emirates SkyCargo, a division of the Dubai-based government airline, said it “has stepped up its commitment to” cargo supplies.

It is adding additional freighter flights to transport pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and equipment, perishables, and other raw materials to the UAE and other global destinations.

Between mid-January and mid-March 2020, it transported more than 225,000 tonnes of cargo in total out of which 55,000 tonnes were food items including fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood, and more than 13,000 tonnes were pharmaceutical cargo.

Nabil Sultan, Divisional Senior Vice President, Emirates SkyCargo, said: “By operating our freighter fleet at full capacity across six continents with a combination of scheduled and ad-hoc operations, we are making sure that we can maintain the flow of goods such as medical and pharmaceutical supplies, equipment and food items not just to Dubai and the UAE but to other global destinations where they are most needed across the world.”

As part of one chartered operation, Emirates SkyCargo transported close to half a million units of hand sanitisers in a single Boeing 777 freighter aircraft.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Cargo is also adding additional aircraft to cater to the surge in demand. The company said it was introducing a fleet of Boeing 787-10 aircraft to its pre-existing fleet of Boeing 777 freighters. The fleet will operate 34 weekly flights, initially serving 10 markets.

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Covid 19 coronavirus: Vietjet will pay passengers $14k if they catch virus on flights

Vietnamese airline Vietjet will pay customers up to $14,000 if they catch coronavirus while flying with them.

The carrier, which is been at the centre of controversy in the past for stunts involving bikini-clad models, announced the payout as part of its new “Sky Covid Care” insurance scheme.

The policy covers domestic flights in Vietnam between now and June 30 and applies to all eligible customers free of charge, regardless of nationality.

However, New Zealanders won’t be eligible as they can’t fly in Vietnam because of the government’s decision to enforce an alert level 4 nationwide lockdown.

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Airline will pay you £7,300 if you catch coronavirus after flying with them

Vietnamese airline Vietjet has announced that it’s prepared to pay customers up to 200m VND (£7,344) if they catch coronavirus after flying with them.

The payout will be part of its new “SKY COVID CARE insurance” scheme, which will cover all domestic flights between 23 March and 30 June 2020.

It will be offered free of charge to all eligible customers, regardless of age and nationality.

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In a statement announcing the launch of the insurance, the airline said: “With the insurance, passengers are eligible for insurance coverage and benefits from Vietjet within 30 days starting at 00:01 of the flight date, regardless of how passengers are infected with the disease.”

The airline said it has set aside “tens of billion dong” of its own money to cover the scheme, which is designed to “bring passengers assurance”.

In order to qualify for the coverage, the airline said prospective customers must provide “all information in accordance with Vietjet’s terms and conditions” when purchasing tickets.

This includes full name with relevant ID as proof, date of birth, contactable phone number and email address.

In addition, customers must “comply with all regulations on disease prevention and control of Vietjet, the Ministry of Health and authorities”.

While the airline doesn’t discriminate against customers of certain ages or nationalities, those who have already been confirmed positive for Covid-19 are ineligible, as are those who breach any safety regulations, such as isolation or travel bans, outlined by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health or other government authorities.

However, the airline has said it won’t cover passengers with epilepsy, mental illness or suicidal behaviours under the policy either.

Customers hoping to make a claim can do so via the form on its website, and will need to provide proof that they’ve tested positive for Covid-19 as well as proof of treatment.

This is not the first time the airline has courted controversy.

In 2012, the airline was fined after it hosted a bikini show on one of its planes.

Vietnam‘s Civil Aviation Authority issued a 20m VND (£735) fine as it said the airline staged the show without receiving official approval.

Vietnam currently has 113 confirmed cases of coronavirus according to the latest World Health Organisation report, dated 23 March.

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